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Crowning of a New Era


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"...with 49 votes in favor, a clear majority, this bill hereby passes."
With these words, spoken by Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko, the Coronation Bill was hereby to be passed from the State Duma, which had reviewed the bill draft that had been received from the Constituent Assembly, to the His Imperial Majesty's Chancery for the Grand Duke's review and signature.
The bill, proposed by the Russian Unity Party (RUP), endorsed by many United Muscovy (UNM) deputies, and opposed by most of the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) and less than half of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) in the Constituent Assembly, called for the "formal investiture upon the Grand Duke regal powers historically wielded by the Tsar". If signed into law, the bill would begin the process in which Muscovy would be elevated from a grand duchy to a tsardom.
Grand Duke Mikhail Ivanovich Romanov sat quietly at his desk, reading over the text of the Bill that had just arrived at his desk in the second floor of the Grand Kremlin Palace, the Imperial residence.
There had been rumors circulating around the halls of the Chancery, the Legislature, and other echelons of the government, confirmed one time by the daily reports of the Third Department, the Imperial secret police. Even so, the Grand Duke did not expect the proposal that he be elevated to the position of "Tsar of the Russias."
"This is a great honor, your Imperial Majesty," Count Ivan Abayev, chairman of the His Imperial Majesty's Chancery, said as he took a seat near the Grand Duke's desk, having been the one who had handed over the Bill. "You should accept it."
The Grand Duke remained silent for a moment as he parsed the bill. Finally, he looked up. "Yes, it is a great honor indeed, one that I did not expect." He then set down the bill. "The question remains whether or not I should accept such honor, much less be worthy of such a historic title."
Abayev raised his eyebrows. "You do not deem yourself worthy of the title of the Tsar?"
"The crown of the Tsar is not one to be gained lightly, dating back to Ivan III in the fourteenth century. And this title confers upon me a degree of power and legitimancy that I already possess as Grand Duke, and yet it transcends the borders of Muscovy. Would it be appropriate for me to claim myself as "Tsar of the Russias" when much of Russia remains outside our control?"
"Being Tsar would further enhance and consolidate your position as our leader," Abayev replied. "In fact, this bill has wide public support, from representatives of grassroots organization to deputies of the Legislature. Heck, this includes the workers and sailors of Saint Petersburg! That alone should tell you something." 
Abayev paused for a few seconds. "And as far as I'm concerned, the lands within our borders are the historic core of Russia. We are Russia, regardless of our nation's size."
"Still, I don't know. When I became Grand Duke, I intended to keep it as this, even after I became the leader of this country," Mikhail replied as he picked the bill up. "Do we really need to go through with all these pomp and ceremony for something that I already wield in practice?"
"Well, considering Tsars throughout Russian history had to go through with this, I would say yes. Like I said, the population supports this, and this would strengthen yourself in their eyes."
"I suppose you have a point there, given that we live in a postapocalyptic world, and the people do need a strong leader." The Grand Duke exhaled. "I suppose I have little choice in this."
"You could refuse this," Abayev said with a cheeky grin.
Mikhail snorted. "And be run out of Moscow by my own people? I should think not. But still...this initiative, though touching, places much expectations upon me, something that I fear I may not be able to fulfill."
"You'll do fine," Abayev said. "After all, you've done a good job as Grand Duke so far, and I imagine you'll continue that way as Tsar. I bet some of the previous Tsars thought the same, and look how they did!"
Mikhail nodded slowly. "Yes...especially Nicholas II and Vladilen Yukanovski. But then I could learn from the past to avoid repeating their mistakes."
"Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it." Abayev quoted.
"Whose quote was that? I forget."
"George Santayana, in his book, in the first volume of his book, Reason in Common Sense."
Mikhail raised his eyebrows. "You certainly know this stuff."
"I majored in History."
"Impressive, considering that we have relatively few historical records that weren't destroyed by the Great Apocalypse. When you think of it, Santayana certainly has a great lesson here, not only for us but for the rest of the world."
"So, you'll accept the position of Tsar?"
Mikhail smiled ruefully. "Did I exactly say I would?"
"Well, you implied it."
The Grand Duke exhaled. "I suppose I should accept the honor that has been bestowed upon me. I suspect it would be an outrageous insult if I didn't. Still, like I said, this leaves me little choice."
"Yeah, the people will do that. All governments, even ones like ours, will have to take in account their opinions and expectations one way or another." Abayev said.
"A blessing and a curse," Mikhail said with a smirk.
"Think of it more like the former, not the latter."
The Grand Duke nodded as he retrieved a pen from the desk. "Here's to Empire," he said sardonically.
"Long live the Emperor!" Abayev chorused.
Mikhail rolled his eyes as he scribbled his signature on the bill, enacting it into law.
Red Square in central Moscow was crowded, with as many as a million people crammed in a tight area. It had been announced that the Grand Duke had duly signed the Coronation Bill into law, hereby accepting the proposal put forth by the People and their representatives.
A massive parade was held in Red Square, in which thousands of Army soldiers, police officers, and honorary guards, all clad in highly-decorated ceremonious attires, marched past the awed audience in perfect coordination. The Muscovite anthem rang throughout the square, amplified by the Moscow air.
Grand Duke Mikhail Ivanovich Romanov solemnly stood on a podium in front of what had once been the Lenin Mausoleum (the grotesque, mummified body of Vladimir Lenin had, thankfully, been incinerated in the Great Apolcalypse), now the rebuilt Romanov Historical Center. At his side stood Steward Vladimir Putin, Ivan Abayev, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Medvedev, and all Ministers.
As the last of the marchers left, and silence descended upon Red Square once again, Mikhail surveyed the audience for a moment before opening his mouth:
"Citizens of Muscovy! Citizens of Russia! Brothers and sisters!
I speak before you, not merely as Grand Duke but as a citizen of Muscovy.
Long ago, our ancient and proud nation, in the form of the Greater Russian Empire, was devastated by the Great Apolcalypse. Not too long ago, the surviving people of our ancient and proud nation banded together to form a bastion of peace, order, and security in the form of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. 
Across the core hinterlands of Russia, stretching from Murmansk in the Arctic to Grozny in the Caucasus, from Saint Petersburg in the Gulf of Finland to Astrakhan in the Caspian Sea, the banner of Muscovy flies high and proud over this great bastion, signifying to the world not only our freedom and sovereignty, but the core values to which we hold in dear regard: order, stability, community, equality, freedom, and liberty.
Through hard work and determination, we succeeded in this, a great achievement which will be remembered by future generations.
But I do not address you, my brothers and sisters, merely to recount our success in the establishment of this great bastion. No, I address you, my brothers and sisters, to declare that a new era have now dawned upon the great bastion of Muscovy, in which we as an ancient and proud people shall continue to play a role in the anarchic international order in which we live in.
My brothers and sisters, it is with great pleasure that I assume the title of the "Tsar of the Russias"!
As part of this new tsardom of Russia, we shall aspire to maintain and perpetuate the values of order, stability, community, equality, and liberty; to contribute positively to the anarchic international order as responsible members of the international community; and to overcome any and all challenges that rise to test our great bastion. 
As a proud and ancient people, we shall move on from the devastating past toward the bright and prosperous future!
Thunderous applause and cheers of "Ura! Ura! Ura!" greeted the end of Mikhail Ivanovich Romanov's last speech as Grand Duke, and first as Tsar of the Russias, not only in Moscow but throughout the new tsardom.
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